I would like to thank everyone who has read, commented and supported me while writing this.
I have been asked who the boy is on the front cover. He is George Hewit, who I am sure you will hear about in the future as he is a very talented singer and musician. He very kindly agreed to pose for the cover of Adam. Here is the link to his band Fresco muy funky on youtube.
The world is in crisis, so when scientists think they have found the solution in the male contraceptive. A vaccination program on a global scale is rolled out. But it has a nasty side effect and soon the human race is staring extinction square in the face.
So the Adam program is initiated and a select group of genetically engineered boys are raised to keep the human race going.
When the home one of these boys lives in is attacked, he finds himself plunged into a world that is both frightening and fascinating at the same time.
Celina's mission has been a disaster from the start her boy didn't get out and she is left with another boy not her genetic match and Gen-Corp the company that own him, are taking his abduction badly. As the death toll grows around the boy Celina realizes it’s not just his life she needs to protect but hers as well.
Celina has to call on all her resources and contacts if she stands any chance of getting the boy to Ireland and safety as it becomes apparent that he is no ordinary boy, he is something else.
As Celina spends more time with him her feelings toward him grow, but he cannot be hers he is not her genetic match. As he starts to question her about her role in society and what his will be, he starts to question her motives and the motives of the organisation she works for. Did he really need rescuing at all.
Glancing out of the window my fingers guide the pencil across the paper. Scrunching my face in concentration I block out the sounds of the boys playing in the snow as I try to capture the energy and enthusiasm of their robust game.
‘Adam, where are you?’ A gust of freezing air follows the voice as Mathew bursts into the room. He shuffles over to the fire and sits as close as he can without setting himself on fire. For a moment I picture this in my head ending with him running about in flame like coat setting the whole school burning. Blinking I focus on him again.
‘Why? What’s going on?’ His damp, dishevelled state brings a smile to my face. His auburn hair is plastered to his forehead and his face is pinker than normal. This suggests that he was somehow involved in the snowball fight, possibly the instigator. He watches me drawing for a bit before answering.
‘Oh, they’re organising a snowball fight between the Mothers and the boys, if you’re interested.’ His gaze travels to my face as his mouth turns up in a smile, his green eyes shining.
‘Oh, I see. Do you mind if I pass?’ Sucking my pencil I study my drawing.
‘Nah, I told them you would say that,’ he grins back and gets to his feet, warming his hands against the fire one last time. He wanders over to the door, puts his hand on the handle and turns to me.
‘Catch you later,’ pulling it closed behind him. My solitude is short lived however as I soon hear the voice of my Mother.
‘Adam, Adam, sample time,’ she says in a sing song voice. She opens the door and steps inside, smiling at me, waggling a sample pot in her fingers. Her impossibly high heels clacking on the wooden floor, long blonde hair loose down her back.
‘Why weren’t you outside?’ She asks, sitting on the sofa to my side. Well, sitting isn’t quite right, perching would be more accurate. She crosses her long slender legs.
Taking in her form-fitting dress and low neckline that doesn’t leave much to the imagination I shrug, meeting her gaze. ‘Didn’t feel like it.’
‘Oh, are you ill?’ She reaches out and strokes my face with her fingers, before ruffling my blond hair. She does this on purpose, as she knows I hate her messing with my hair.
‘No, I’m fine,’ a frown forming with annoyance as I growl at her and push her hand away. Her lips twitch as she suppresses a smile.
‘Good, right, well, sample time, are you ready or do you want some help?’ She runs her hand up my inner thigh stroking and caressing.
‘No, I don’t need any help.’ Her hand rests on my crotch, closing my eyes, relaxing my body. ‘Do we have to do this can’t we just skip it today? I’m not feeling too into it.’ Casting my eyes upward I wait for her reaction.
‘You weren’t feeling very into it last time either, or were you unwell? It’s difficult to keep track. Come on what’s gotten into you?’
‘It’s just, what’s the rush? If there are only so many samples that can be taken, why the big hurry to get them all out of the way now? Why can’t we…you know space them out a bit, take it easy?’
‘Adam, not collecting your sample will not stop you from being retired at twenty, that’s just the way it works, honey. All that will happen is that I will get into trouble for not meeting my quota. I can’t keep making excuses for you.’ Worry in her voice as her eyes sweep over my body.
‘But I don’t want to be retired at twenty. I want to have a nice long happy life. And what with the downturn hardly anyone can afford to buy an Adam nowadays. What if nobody wants me and I don’t sell?’ I complained. Not that I want that either, I want to be my own person, not some woman’s property.
‘Oh come on Adam, there are still plenty of women out there with more money than sense. And who wouldn’t want to buy a Lil’ cutey like you, huh…coochie coo.’ She jokes pulling at my cheek.
‘Aaah stop.’ I laugh pushing her hand away, mock scowling.
‘Now come on let’s stop messing around and let me get this sample so we can both get on with our day,’ she says suddenly all business again.
‘Alright fine,’ I agree petulantly.
So here I am, lying on the couch, while a stunningly attractive woman strokes and generally coaxes me to perform, so she can collect my sample.
I am an Adam, one of many hidden around the world. I am the property of a company called Gen-Corp. Gen-Corp are specialists in
genetics, human genetics and I was created in one of their laboratories. At seventeen I am an example of genetic and by extension, physical perfection. Perfectly proportioned features, at just six foot and lightly muscled, I was bred to an exact specification. I am Fair, blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin. Mathew is Auburn, red hair, green eyes. It all depends on trends, if fair babies are in demand I will be milked more. Gen-Corp has computers that track these trends so there are always enough Adam’s to fulfil demand.
‘Oh, you are a good boy,’ she coos, as I pick up my book to distract myself from what she’s doing.
‘Well done, sweetheart.’ She bends and kisses my forehead, as I try my level best to focus on my book.
In my mind, this was my final chance at convincing Gen-Corp not to retire me. As far as I could see this was the tipping point, there is no other option for me now than to leave. If I stay I will spend the next three years being milked until I reach twenty then I will either be euthanized or sold to become some woman’s play thing, of course they will sterilise me first. When she tires of me she will be in her right to have me put to sleep, euthanized, legally killed.
If I am really lucky, depending on how you view these things, I will be genetically matched. The girl will be given papers for me and I will become her property and expected to breed with her. Once she has a baby she doesn’t have to keep me she can hand me back to be euthanized or she can sell me. So yeah, what can I say, I don’t want any of that? Who would, well the other Adams. You see they made a mistake with me; they gave me intelligence when they should have been making me docile, too stupid to question. How do I know this?
Simple, above average intelligence and unlimited access to the library, thank you Mother.
I feign rapt fascination with my book until she is forced to leave the room. I give it a couple of minutes then spring to my feet, quickly moving towards the door and glance into the hallway. As I suspected it is deserted with everyone distracted by the snow ball fight. I make my way down the hallway and up a flight of service stairs at the end to the first-floorlanding.
Where the ground floor is made up of leisure and dining space this floor is split between administrative offices and the Mothers’ private quarters. I am not supposed to be up here and will have to answer some pretty difficult questions if I am caught.
I sneak along the corridor occasionally peering into the deserted offices or listening for the sound of someone coming. Fortunately, no one is around. I creep along until I find one of the doors to the Mothers’ rooms lodged open by some dirty clothes. Despite the fact that they are always telling us to be clean and tidy some of them can be quite messy.
I enter the room like a ninja and start carefully rummaging through the pockets of the discarded clothes searching for a key card that will allow me to get through one of the external doors into the gardens.
Having no luck amongst the clothes, I turn my attention to the bedside tables finally finding one under a stack of papers next to the Mother’s bed. The doors in and out of the home close and lock automatically and I was never going to escape unless I had one of these key-cards to open them again.
Successful, I exit the room, careful to leave it in a similar state to the way I found it. I hurry along the landing and down the stairs to the ground floor, the key-card safely stuffed in my pocket, and back towards the drawing room where I had been reading.
I re-enter the room to find my Mother there waiting for me. ‘Sweetheart, where have you been, I thought you were reading your book?’ a look of curiosity upon her face, my book in her hand.
‘Adam, why didn’t you join in with the other boys today?’
She looks at me waiting, a sigh escapes my lips. ‘I don’t know. I wanted to but…I just I had a lot on my mind I guess,’ giving a shrug again, this time trying not to give anything away under her scrutiny.
‘Oh, Adam, you worry too much, you are a good boy and always have been. You need to forget all this nonsense about retiring and just enjoy the time you have.’ She pulls me to her and links her arm with mine. Hugging me into her side as we walk along the corridor, she can never understand how frightened and trapped I feel. The numb feeling that has replaced the sadness at this realisation settles around me, within me.
‘Why make me like this? Why give me this intelligence what is it for? Why didn’t they make me docile like the other boys though? There has to be a reason?’
‘Enough Adam, I am tired of your questions, just accept that this is your fate, you are male and this world doesn’t want you in it, alright.’ I glare at her before walking away, that can’t be the reason or am I deluding myself. Only one way to find out, leave and see for myself.
A cacophony of noise assaults my ears as I enter the dining room. I stop to take in the ornate plaster and freezes that decorate the walls. The stately home that we live in with its grand elegant decorations taken from a bygone age never fails to amaze me. It’s such a calm refined contrast to the chaos and drama of its residents, as the boys boisterously eat their dinner. Mother kisses me on the cheek before walking across the polished wooden floor to the table that all the Mothers sit at.
The delicious scent of roast chicken dinner wafts around me, causing my stomach to growl. Dodging the kitchen and dining staff bustling around the room clearing plates and already bringing out dessert, I make my way past the rows of tables, each packed with boys of varying ages chattering and eating their dinner. Finding my place, I sit down, pleased to see my dinner already on the table. Taking my seat I listen to the conversation going on around me as they discuss the snowball fight; I smile at their boyish enthusiasm.
‘You’re very quiet,’ Mathew, nudges me as I fork a roast potato. Popping it into my mouth as his intense green eyes watch my every move, I feel heat warm my cheeks at his scrutiny.
‘Adam, are you still worrying about me going?’ he asks as I eat my potato.
‘Yeah, I guess.’
‘I will be fine. Mother has a match for me,’ he beams at me, his statement should have been a surprise, but in all honesty, Mathew should be the poster boy for The Adam Program. Someone was really paying attention when they created him he really is beautiful and it isn’t just physical he is just a nice person.
‘Really? Who?’ Swallowing my food, I turn to look at him. How can he be so accepting? Oh, yeah, he was made to be.
‘I don’t know but she is high ranked,’ a large grin on his face. ‘So I will be fine little dude,’ chuckling he ruffles my hair.
‘Get off.’ I push his arm away and straighten my hair, glaring at him as he laughs.
‘You are so grumpy today.’
‘Yeah, sorry, tired I guess,’ I answer. Finishing my dinner, I gaze at my pudding, chocolate sponge and custard; I don’t fancy it and push it away.
‘Oh, you gonna eat that?’ Mathew asks eyeing my pudding.
‘No, do you want it?’ I don’t know why I am asking as I know the answer.
‘Yes please.’ He pulls the bowl to him and starts to demolish it. ‘Film night tomorrow, are you going?’ he asks pushing the now empty bowl away.
‘Oh, yes,’ I reply with a grin. He gets up as his Mother calls him.
‘I will come and get you and we can sit together?’ I nod and he smiles before sauntering off with his Mother, one more milking before bed. I sigh and push my chair out climbing to my feet as my own Mother calls me.
Climbing out of bed I move to the window, pushing back the curtain, peering outside. The snow has stopped. It is early, just gone five. I
have a good couple of hours before breakfast and the first milking. Getting dressed as quickly as I can I do up my chinos and slipping a warm navy sweater over my head. Sitting on my bed I wriggle on some thick socks and grab my boots not putting them on. Moving over to the door of my room, carefully pulling it open I check the hall. It is deserted; obviously, no other idiot would be up at this time. My feet make no noise on the plush brown carpet as I creep past the other boys’ rooms taking the stairs two at a time. I finally reach the door to the garden and drop my boots to the floor. Pushing my feet inside and doing up the laces I glance down the hall toward the stairs, checking no one has heard me. No mother about to call me back. Reaching into my pocket I pull out the stolen key card and hold it against the sensor next to the door. After a brief moment of hesitation the sensor flashes green and the door clicks. I reach out my hand pushing the handle and nudging the door open.
Standing in the doorway inhaling the crisp, fresh air as it fills my lungs. The cold tingles on my skin, the hushed whispering noise that snow seems to make telling the secrets of the things it has buried. I gaze around, no one is about. I know armed guards patrol the perimeter fence and I’ll have to be careful to avoid them if I don’t want to get caught.
Taking my first step into the snow, marvelling at the delicious sound it makes as it crunches under my boot, I make my way around the house towards the small wood just onthe south side of the fence. Checking I am not being watched, I stay concealed as I watch the guards. Counting how many there are and then I time how long it takes for them to do a perimeter. I need to know this if I am going to get out.
‘Adam, what the hell are you doing out here?’ Mathews, voice makes me turn suddenly, I hadn’t heard him as I had been concentrating on the guards.
‘No…nothing,’ my voice stutters annoyingly, ‘I am just enjoying the quiet you know.’
‘Oh Adam, are you thinking about Aaron, I know it is coming up to the anniversary,’ he moves over to me and puts his arm around me.
‘Oh yeah, really miss him, you know, he loved snow,’ the lie just seems to glide off my tongue and a little bit of me feels bad. I do think about Aaron and miss him enormously but in this instant, I am not thinking about him.
‘How did you get out here?’ Looking him over, I notice he isn’t properly dressed for this weather, he has his indoor shoes on, not boots like me and he has a hoody on, rather than a coat.
‘I um, followed you but lost you when a guard came,’ I am not entirely sure that was the truth.
‘Come on its cold out here,’ I take his hand and drag him back inside.’
‘Where did you get that key card from?’ He asks, as I knew he would, eventually, despite his bumbling attitude Mathew seems to watch everything.
‘Mother gave it to me,’ I am getting good at this, I congratulate myself, as I lie again. I am going to have to be careful, he will be watching me if I know Mathew, I have a quick debate about telling him my plan and then change my mind, he would talk me out of it I know he would.
‘Mathew, you idiot where are you?’ I laugh as I run along the corridor. The boards creak beneath my feet, my rubber bottomed shoes squeaking on the varnished wood; they didn’t bother to carpet the attic. To be fair only Mathew and I come up here.
‘In here,’ he shouts as I push the door open to find him stood at a window. He doesn’t turn as the door bangs shut behind me.
‘What you looking at?’ I peer over his shoulder smiling at the view. In the distance, the river snakes through the farm land and further off is the small town that most the staff come from, brought in and out each day under tight security.
‘Look at all the people, I have never seen it this busy not even when…’ his voice trails off as he feels me stiffen next to him. ‘Sorry!’ He drapes an arm around my shoulders and pulls me close.
‘It’s okay,’ but it isn’t, not really. I know what he was going to say and it scares me.
We watch the activity a bit longer before turning and settling down on the bean bags we dragged up here. I place the board between us and start setting my pieces in their places. I am white and Mathew is black. He watches me smiling as he places his. We both pick up our last pawn together and laughing at each other we place them on the board at the same time. Then we sit contemplating our first moves. My elbows are on my knees as I rest my chin in my hands. Without looking, Mathew is doing the same, his long legs crossed like mine.
‘It will be alright.’ His gaze locks with mine. ‘You know, without me.’ He nods as if that is the end of it.
‘Yeah, I know,’ I say, casting my gaze at the game.
‘Time will pass quickly and we will see each other again, you are bound to be matched to someone important.’ He grins and I half smile back.
‘What if it’s all lies,’ I blurt unable to hold in the nagging doubts.
‘What?’ He frowns as his fingers hover over his chess piece.
‘What if they just say that to keep us here, stop us from freaking out and escaping?’ I am slightly annoyed when he laughs.
‘Adam, man, you think way too much besides you don’t kill your most valuable assets now do you?’
‘I suppose,’ I concede and concentrate on the game. Maybe he is right. I try to convince myself but to me neither option is very appealing.
I pack away the game sliding the box against the wall as Mathew stretches his cramped muscles. Surging to my feet and
stretching my arms above my head I release the tension in my back from sitting in the same position for so long.
‘Time for tea I reckon.’ Mathew grabs my arm pulling me out the room and along the corridor to the stairs just as my Mother appears. She is dressed down in jeans and a jumper, trainers on her feet.
‘Hello, Mother, are you okay?’ I ask as we walk along the corridor towards her. ‘You look troubled.’
‘Yes I’m fine, what were you two doing up in the attic?’ she asks.
‘We go up there to play chess,’ Mathew answers, ‘we go up there to play because it is the only place that we get any peace and quiet.’ He grins.
‘I see, well you shouldn’t really be sneaking off without supervision. From now on we will be keeping better track of all of your movements.’ she informs us with an air of finality.
‘Oh, why is that?’ I ask attempting to sound only mildly interested.
‘If you must know, last night security found a set of foot prints through the snow from the house and into the nearby woods. We suspect it was one of the staff but we can’t be taking any chances. As such from now on you shall not go unaccompanied. Fortunately, it did highlight a hole in the perimeter fence that has since been repaired. Now come along it’s time for dinner,’ she said before turning around and striding off along the landing. We follow after her in silence while I mentally kick myself for being stupid enough to leave a trail of snowy footprints.
Creeping along the back corridor that the library is situated on my only thought is I hope no one else is using it, but since classes have finished for the day it should be empty. Placing my hand on the heavy wooden doors I push them open, cringing at the creaking noise they make, amplified by the silence. It becomes apparent that the library is empty and the lights are turned off. Carefully closing the doors behind me I leave the lights off as I move deeper into the library to where the computers are.
Hearing voices it becomes apparent my assumption was wrong someone else is in here. Getting up I sidle up to one of the large book cases using it to shield me I catch a glimpse of my Mother talking to someone who I can’t see. I hear a snatch of conversation pressing tighter to the book case I listen.
‘We need to get him away, he isn’t coping, we knew this would happen. He isn’t like the other boys, he shouldn’t be here doing this and time is running out.’ My Mother’s voice rises slightly in agitation. I have never known her upset she is always so cheerful. Sometimes it annoys me, the way she is always smiling and happy, never getting cross.
‘I know Emma but it took us time to find you. Plans are being made to move him, but we aren’t the only ones who know about him. It will be hard getting him out of the country, you don’t want them to move him first, and you don’t want them to replace you, change his Mother.’
‘Mathew is being moved soon. Can’t we use that as a distraction and get him out at the same time?’
‘That would be really risky. I got confirmation of Mathew’s match today.’
‘Who is she?’
‘Only Madame Ramsbottom’s bloody cousin.’
‘Will she accompany her, if she sees Adam she will know exactly what he is?’
‘I am well aware of that.’
‘Are you willing to take that risk?’
‘No of course not, but he is so sad, it’s painful to watch. Please hurry, it was bad enough we split them up…,’
‘Look I will see what I can do, what with the break in the other night maybe it is time he was moved, Gen-Corp have been pestering me for him anyway as all his sample’s fail. They want the other one as well, what did you tell him about his brother?’
‘He thinks Aaron is dead, it was the only way to stop the questions.’
‘Well that might be true now, he was lost a couple of months ago the home he was in raided, his Mother killed, someone knew,’ I hear their footsteps on the wooden floor along with the swish of the door opening and closing indicating I am alone. She lied, she lied, sinking to the floor resting my head on my drawn up knees. She lied, he is alive, I have to find him, how though. Banging my head on my
knees before pushing to my feet, idiot Adam you are in a room full of computers.
Sitting at one I turn it on and wait for it to boot up scanning the room to make sure I am alone. Once online I download a map of the surrounding area. That way once I leave the home I’ll at least have a vague idea of where I am going, avoiding the heavily populated areas if I can while finding safe places to spend the nights. Once the map is printed, I move the mouse over admin and look for my Mother’s name. I then spend a few minutes working out her password and look for my movement papers. Above my file is Aarons, I open it and study his movement papers. The last record of him is a home in Glasgow, I print off the address. Closing that I find the train time table because Glasgow is as far away as it gets and I can’t walk all the way. I erase any evidence I have used the computer and then turn it off. Folding the map and other information up I push it into my pocket and leave the library.
The house is quiet as I get dressed and rummage through my cupboard to find my tatty old bag from when I was moved to this home after Aaron died. Brushing off the dust to peer inside. Oh yuk, I take it over to the bin tipping out the mouldy contents of a half-eaten sandwich and a sticky lump that may have been a packet of fruit jellies.
Opening the drawer to my bedside cabinet I grab a bottle of water and a bar of chocolate, the food parcel smuggled out of the dining room at teatime along with the map I managed to print off yesterday evening before I crept into the deserted kitchens and took a
large sharp knife. A change of pants and socks, along with a spare t shirt, are shoved inside along with my most precious possession, my drawing book, and small art box containing my pencils and water paints. Moving across the room I look out the window at the snow, it is really heavy now this is my only chance if I want to escape undetected as the snow will hide my footprints.
She has lied about everything, I don’t have to have this life, and once I find Aaron we will go to Ireland. According to an article I found online there are people there that help boys like me. No wonder they monitor our every move, restrict our access to computers. Grabbing the spare blanket from the top of my wardrobe I zip my jacket up.
I reach the back door to the house without incident, swiping the card over the sensor the light turns green but as I push the door open an alarm goes off, damn, this is swiftly followed by the flood lights coming on one by one. Briefly immobilised, sweat on my forehead even though my body has turned cold, I haul in a cleansing breath, blowing it out; my legs obey my brain moving into shadow just outside the lights reach. Somehow managing to stick to the plan and instead of making for the fence, I hug the walls of the house and make my way around to where I know the tool shed is. Pulling the latch I slip inside, only just though as it is packed with rusty old lawn mowers with a window on one side and tool bench littered with bits of wood rusty metal. I carry on past it towards a set of drawers hidden at the back of the shed. Inside the second from top drawer I find what I am looking for, a relatively intact pair of wire cutters.
Suddenly I hear voices, the guards are coming. Instinctively I drop down between the lawn mowers and attempt to crawl under the desk while simultaneously making myself as small as possible. Momentarily the shed is flooded with torchlight as two security guards peer through the window into the shed. My heart pounds as I am convinced that they can see me.
‘It’s empty, come on they are by the back fence I’m telling you.’ The guards move on and I am plunged into darkness. I wait still for a moment in case they come back, and then climb to my feet and leave the tool shed.
If they are going to the back fence then I will have to escape out of one of the other sides. Fortunately, the snow storm has gotten worse and visibility is down to less than five meters now. I cut my way through the fence without incident and squeeze through; unfortunately, the woods that would cover my escape are at the back of the house, while I find myself at the moment stood at the edge of an open field. They will definitely catch me out here; running along the edge of the fence and into the woods.
A hand grabs me pulling me against a tree the suddenness of the action stops me from resisting.
‘Damn it, I knew it was you,’ she glares at me, ‘who else would hack my account?’
‘You have been lying to me.’
‘For your own good, why couldn’t you just accept everything?’
‘Because those scientists manipulated my intelligence, as well as my DNA,’ she has to know this and the consequences that would have, it is my nature to question everything.
‘Oh Adam,’ she sighs, I may have won this argument, now I just have to persuade her to let me go, that may not be as easy.
‘I am not going back,’ straightening my spine and pushing back my shoulders, trying to use my height advantage.
‘Don’t be ridiculous, you have no idea how much danger you are in out here,’ her gaze is unwavering, despite the twitch under her eye, Aaron and I called it her mad twitch.
‘Well explain it to me why don’t you, all this danger, most the population is now sterile, so I am no use to them, am I. If I should come across a girl I could make babies with, she will be more cautious than me, won’t she, in case Gen-Corp catch her and use her in one of the breeding programs. Or was that all a lie as well,’ my tone is challenging as I wait for her answer, one I know she won’t give me.
The sound of a twig breaking has my Mother swinging around, pushing me to the ground.
‘Emma, what on earth are you doing out here?’ the woman stops, her gaze flicks toward me, then back to my Mother, ‘ah, of course.’
They stand squaring up to each other, circling a mere arm’s length apart. I feel fear creep over me and sweat breaks out over my body, which I could really do without, trying to use the tree to shelter me from the biting wind, watching my Mother, as I climb back to my feet.
‘Hand him over Emma,’ the stranger demands. I see something glint in the moonlight.
‘I knew you would come, just can’t resist can you.’
‘Well it would appear I arrived just in time, now, hand, him, over.’
‘No, I won’t. They are people like us, children, not bartering chips,’ my Mother replies, knife clutched in her hand.
‘That was always your flaw, you care too much. He is just another commodity,’ the woman in black jeers as she walks towards me. Hauling me roughly forward, taking my chin in her fingers she turns my head to study me. I scowl at her and she smiles at me, but it’s not a nice smile. Taking in her features the first thing that amazes me is she is young, I mean really young, not much older than me. The next is she is plain, not beautiful, her features aren’t perfect she has glasses on, which suggests to me her DNA hasn’t been tampered with.
‘He is pretty, I give you that, they will pay for these looks, his genetics are exemplary. Even his daughters will be attractive, never mind the sons and of course he was the first. They will even pay to sleep with him and to be impregnated naturally,’ she laughs. Can’t say I found any of that amusing.
‘No, that wasn’t the deal, you promised. If you go back on it I will kill him.’ Mother grabs me and holds the knife to my throat, the other woman laughs. I still don’t find any of this funny.
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ she pulls me away from Mother and runs her hands over me touching me. Is he a good boy, obedient?’ her hand is between my legs and I feel repulsed and nauseated by her. This is definitely not funny.
‘Get away from him,’ my Mother pushes her away. I stumble and fall to the ground. I see a flash of silver and my Mother gasps before stepping forward, her hand with the knife in between them. They seem to hug and I frown at such odd behaviour after their argument. The other woman sags and Mother lets her drop to the floor. She turns to me and looks me over as she pulls me up and into a hug.
‘Are you alright Adam?’ she hugs me tight. ‘Come on we need to get you away from here, more will follow,’ She takes my hand and leads me through the wood to the meadow. I crane my neck and look back. The person is still laid in the snow unmoving and it is then I realise Mother has killed someone. I swallow and allow Mother to drag me through the wood.
‘Is she dead?’
‘No, good grief what sort of person do you think I am?’
‘Well…I don’t know any more.’
‘Adam, I am here for you, that’s my job, you.’
‘You aren’t taking me back?’
‘No, not right now, that option has gone now, what was your plan I assume you have one,’ I hesitate, for a split second, as the voice in my head reminds me, she lied.
‘To find Aaron,’ she laughs, bloody hell, yeah I am offended.
‘There is a cave on the other side of the river you go there and wait for me, understand I can get you back in tonight.’
‘I am not going back.’
‘Look you stupid idiot, you will die out here.
‘I will die in there so that argument is redundant, I would rather die out here on my terms, than be euthanized on a whim.’
‘Just go to the cave Adam,’ she sighs out as the trees creak under the weight of the snow. Once through the woods, I come to the edge of another meadow. It is a sea of white and I can just make out the river snaking on its course, steam drifting into the air above it. Where’s the bridge that crosses the river? The snow although falling more softly now is really thick, making me lift my feet higher with each step as I sink almost to my knees. My trousers cling to my legs coated in snow, numbing my legs and can’t feel my fingers from the cold. Dogs are barking and people shout in the woods behind me.
My heart hammers as I attempt to run through the field. The voices get closer as torchlight reflects off the snow at the edge of the wood. I can see the bridge now and desperately urge my aching legs forward to what I hope will offer me some respite from this energy-sapping cold. Before I left the house I found a small cave marked out on the map. The place Mother told me to get too, not that I am going to wait around for her. I am hoping that it will get me out of the cold wind as well as give me a place to hide, so I can plan my next move.
Getting to the bridge, I grip at the hand rail and draw in a breath, feeling the tingle on my teeth from the frigid air. I wipe away the snot and tears on the sleeve of my jumper and try to get my bearings a numb feeling growing in the pit of my stomach as the realisation that I am on my own for the first time in my life begins to set in. My mouth turns up into a smile as I wrapped my arms around myself in a hug. Yeah, that is how pleased I am with myself. Until the sound of the
dogs barking pulls me back to my immediate predicament and the cold.
Having crossed the bridge I come to the cliff face, searching along it, frantically looking for the entrance to the cave. Stopping outside I can hear voices, what the hell have security got here already? No, I would have seen them and more importantly, they would have seen me. Dismissing that idea and proceeding with caution I enter the cave, pulling up my hood to conceal my face. Strolling in like this is normal, avoiding eye contact with the women inside I soon realise they are mostly the staff from the home. Damn, looking down making it harder to see my face. I recognise the second chef and a couple of the maids from my floor. This many women in one place, surrounding me, are, to say the least, unnerving.
‘Hey, girl is the snow still bad?’ Damn, she is talking to me.
‘Yes, erm, it is quite deep now,’ squeaking my voice to sound more like a female, shuffling away quite glad of my feminine looks for once.
In the centre of the vast rock cavern, a fire has been lit filling the space with light and heat. I make my way to the back but near enough to the fire to benefit from its heat. Huddling into my blanket I can watch who enters and leaves without attracting any attention. The smell of damp permeates the air around me as more people enter the cave and huddle like me close to the fire drying their clothes.
The adrenalin has worn off now and my body just feels numb and tired, so tired. My clothes are slowly drying and the shivering has stopped thank goodness. Now is the time to formulate a plan, staying here isn’t an option, if I don’t want to go back and I can categorically say I am not waiting for my Mother and security. Rummaging in my
bag for the map, I am so distracted by this that I almost fail to notice a new woman enter the cave and would have, were it not for the commotion her horse caused as she leads it into the cave with her.
Her piercing green eyes scan the cave, then settle on me, like she can see right through the blanket and knows exactly who and what I am. Butterflies fill my stomach as our eyes lock, and I instinctively understand that she knows. I watch while she ties the horse up and talks to it, before walking directly toward me. Sweat runs down my neck, familiar fear grips me and I feel physically sick, knowing there is nothing I can do that will stop her progress toward me. I can’t run, people will notice me so instead I reach slowly into my bag and wrap my fingers around the large knife hiding in there. Paralysing fear glues me to my place as she sits down next to me.
‘It isn’t safe here, the Security will find you. In a minute I will get up and leave. You will wait a couple of minutes and then follow me, okay? Nod if you understand.’ I shake my head vigorously scowling at her.
‘I don’t know you why should I trust you?’
‘You don’t have to trust me, you just have to be smart enough to realise that you have a choice, you can stay here in this cave and be caught or killed. Continue going it alone and get lost in the storm right before you die of hypothermia. Or you can come with me and might actually make it to freedom.’
With the full gravity of my situation laid out before me, I realise that maybe going with her wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Besides I wasn’t relishing the thought of travelling alone.
‘How do I know you are not from the home?’ glancing around wary that the other people in the cave could be listening in on our conversation.
‘If I was with Gen Corp don’t you think that I would have bought their security with me or gone and got them as soon as I saw you, Adam?’ she replies and I can’t tell if she knows my name or is just saying what I am for effect.
‘Alright fine, I’ll meet you by the old oak in the field east of here in twenty minutes,’ I reply and she climbs to her feet.
‘Make it ten,’ she commands as she walks towards the mouth of the cave. She is stopped on the way by a skinny underfed dark skinned girl.
‘Celina girl, where did you get that fancy horse?’ The skinny girl runs her hand over the horses flank.
‘I got that job, he comes with it.’ She is lying, the smile on her face is forced not reaching her eyes. ‘I was running an errand when I got caught in this storm,’ she adds holding eye contact with the girl, as she draws herself up, her body language now confident. The other girl seems to shrink a bit.
‘That we all did,’ the skinny girl replies, as nods and murmurs of agreement echo around the cave.
‘Security are coming, it isn’t safe in here,’ Celina says raising her voice so that everyone in the cave can hear her.
‘How you know that?’ a woman shouts from by the fire.
‘I heard their dogs, I came in here to warn you all, that big house with the high fence, its search lights are on and its sirens are going off,’ she says, turning back to her horse.
‘We can’t go out there it’s a white-out,’ someone else complains.
‘Better that than dying in here,’ she answers flippantly and a murmur goes around the cave.
‘That place housed Adams, the only reason the alarms would go off is if one of them escaped. We should hunt it and sell him.’
‘Do you think one has escaped, I ain't never seen an Adam.’
‘Worth a fortune they are, we could keep him use him and then sell him.’
What the hell? Carefully I pull the blanket so it conceals me some more.
‘What and get shot when we get caught with one?’
‘Better than getting shot in here!’ Murmurs go around the cave as I shrink further into my blanket.
My attention returns to the red-haired girl as she unties her horse and leads it outside. I wait a while as a small procession of people who have taken heed of her warning leave the cave.
I take my map out and try to figure out my bearings before climbing to my feet and making my way to the entrance of the cave. I can feel the eyes of the five or so people that remain upon me, including the girl that had spoken to the redhead.
The snow is coming down harder now and it is hard to see where I need to go. Eventually, though the old oak comes into view along with the redheaded girl and her horse.
‘Are you alright, are you hurt?’ My teeth are chattering so much that it is easier to just nod. The dogs are really close, their incessant barking the only sound over the wind, torch light on the bridge.
‘No, I am not hurt,’ I stutter through chattering teeth.
‘Good, now get on the horse,’ she commands and automatically I obey. She pulls my blanket tighter around me and wraps her arm around my waist. I’m not used to being touched by strangers and flinch. If she notices she doesn’t say. She walks the horse deeper into the wood. The dogs and torch light are very close but the overgrown wood, with its straggly trees and weed shrubs, obscure us from view. The snow is falling so thickly our hoof prints disappear faster than they are made as the storm swallows us. The last sound I hear is a popping noise followed by screaming. The girl kicks the horse into a gallop. The screaming fades and hunching tighter into my blanket I dip my head in an attempt to combat the snow and cold.
After what feels like a long time she slows the horse from the crazy speed we were doing to a gentle trot. My eyelids get heavy as the cold sucks all my energy. Jerking awake I notice that she is talking and try to get my cold sluggish brain to register what she is saying. I notice for the first time her voice is different to mine. Yeah, I know she is a girl – I mean her vowels are soft rounded and quite pleasant to listen to.
‘Hey Thom, I have a boy, young, not retirement age. Yes, alright, no he isn’t mine. The place was on lockdown, sirens going the works, security everywhere. Okay, will do that, talk to you later, bye.’
Someone is rubbing me vigorously; she has removed my boots and wet trousers. I look around and see we are in some sort of barn tucked between some large round bales of straw. It is relatively warm in here, out of the biting wind. The girl lets go of me when she sees I am awake. I scoot away from her pulling the blanket tight around me.
‘Please don’t touch me.’ She ignores me and rummages in her large bag before throwing a pair of jeans at me. Catching them I pull them on. She looks at me and sighs, before getting up and seeing to her horse.
The jeans are an odd fit and I guess they are hers. ‘That’s a nice horse. I’ve never seen one up-close before,’ I remark. It is quite a magnificent horse, its coat a deep chestnut brown with a white patch on its face, and feet.
‘Thanks, his name’s Bob,’ she replies before continuing to talk to the horse. Her short red hair is poking out from under her woollen hat, and occasionally she glances at me as she pats Bob down.
She finishes with the horse and sits next to me pulling a blanket around her. She shuffles closer to me and I try not to flinch as her shoulder brushes mine. Passing her one of my sandwiches I return her smile before biting into it, cheese.
‘We’ll stay here for a bit until the storm passes, thank you for the sandwich,’ she gazes at me again with her piercing green eyes.
Nodding I pull my hood up and close my eyes. I don’t talk; in all honesty, I have no idea what to say, her capability is intimidating.
I am startled awake as an elbow jabs my ribs and instinctively grab my knife, my eyes scan the barn but only the girl is there. She smiles at me and carries on folding her blanket. Putting my knife down I pull my boots on. Yuk, they are damp and cold. She walks over to me and gently wraps a blanket around my shoulders. I don’t mean to but I flinch at her touch again, blushing I cast my eyes down.
It is still dark but I notice the quiet as the wind has dropped indicating the storm has passed. Glancing at my watch, tiredness still tugging at me, its luminous hands read it’s just past four am.
‘Adam, are you alright,’ her voice startles me, her eyes sweeping my body checking me over. A blush heats my cheeks by her piercing gaze; turning away I place my cold hands on them to cool them down so she can’t see the effect she has on me. I’m still unsure of whether she knows my name or not.
‘Yes,’ coughing to clear my throat feeling heat creep up my cheeks, how pathetic. She steps closer, her eyes on my face. Meeting her gaze, I can’t look away.
‘You are so beautiful,’ her voice comes out as the barest whisper as her hand comes up to touch my face my feet move me back just out of reach breaking the spell. She looks me over once more.
‘A bit of a shambles and quite dishevelled but beautiful none the less,’ turning she returns her attention to the horse.
Wow, somewhere in that I thought she might have been paying a compliment, but I guess I was wrong, a wiry smile pulls at my mouth. Picking up my knife and slinging my bag over my head I am still grinning. She gives me a boost up onto the horse and jumps up behind me, urging the horse forward as she does. The snow has nearly stopped and the wind has dropped, but I still feel cold and so hungry, hopefully, we will go somewhere with food soon.
‘Where are we going?’ Looking around, the rolling fields of the countryside have given way to abandoned industrial units indicating we are getting closer to the town. It’s one thing to read about the devastation that occurred after the contraceptive disaster and the civil unrest that followed but to see it. Well that’s a whole different thing. Unfortunately, it only distracts me from my hunger for a short time. ‘I’m hungry!’ it comes out in a moan, there is no stopping the blush on my cheeks as I realise, I said that out loud.
‘We need to pick up some things and then I will get something for us to eat alright,’ she gazes at me a moment her look soft as she smiles. Why is she looking at me like that? Oh, oh, there is something in my hair running my hands through my hair checking there isn’t any straw in it or something. She steers Bob toward a derelict camping and outdoors store, I frown wondering why she would bring me here. I follow her into the store, its dark, cobwebs brush my face making me shiver, stepping over the junk that is strewn around the floor. She walks between the bare aisles towards a door at the back of the store.
‘Why are we here, this place is empty?’
‘Because every woman and her dog are out looking for you and I don’t fancy getting caught, so we need some supplies,’ she hisses back. I glare at her.
‘What sort of supplies?’
‘A tent and something warm for a start, it's blooming freezing.’
‘I hate camping,’ I mutter, she smirks at me.
‘Yeah, me too,’ she confesses and I can’t help but chuckle. She pulls out the gun holstered at her hip and carefully turns the handle of a door at the back of the shop. She slowly pushes it open and enters the room, weapon raised. ‘Come in, Adam, it’s all clear,’ she says, and I follow her. It looks like it used to be the shop’s office as there is a desk in the middle of the room with a chair behind it. It’s what’s in the corner of the room that captures my attention though. Piled in the corner are a tent and sleeping bags as well as clean sets of winter clothes.
‘Where did all this come from?’ Peering around I can’t help but check we are alone here.
‘Some friends of mine left it for us. Stop gawping and help me carry it back to Bob,’ she replies as we pick up the supplies and carry them back through the abandoned store and outside to where Bob waits. She fastens the tent and sleeping bags to Bob; she doesn’t ask for my help and I don’t offer any.
We climb back on the horse and head deeper into the town, which appears mostly abandoned. As we get closer to the centre it becomes obvious that at least some people still live here as I sometimes catch glimpses of figures moving about and we occasionally pass a tethered horse. We approach a garish one-storey building, which I assume is a restaurant, as there are posters of food in the windows. The girl helps me down off Bob and then grabs a couple of bags we had taken from the camping store; she then turns her attention to me.
‘You look a lot like a girl,’ she mutters as she messes my hair up pulling it forward. She is so close to me I can see the freckles dusting her nose. I inhale her scent, she smells like Bob. I try my best not to flinch or push her hand away. ‘Just don’t talk too loud, you have a deep voice for such a small person,’ she smirks at my scowl as I take offence. I’m not small I am taller than you, I think. I huff and follow her inside my hands jammed into my trouser pockets.
Glancing around, my senses are overwhelmed by noise and the delicious smell of food cooking. None of the women in here pay me any attention as they chatter while eating. On closer inspection I notice there are no children. I know breeding is heavily controlled but I expected to see a couple. Maybe they are too precious to be in a place like this. I don’t expect to see any men and I am correct in that assumption, I am the only one. Walking across the room to a vacant table in a corner, secluded enough that I can relax. Sitting down and shuffling along a red bench seat. Part of me wonders how clean the place is, and another part of me is so hungry I don’t care. The girl comes back carrying a tray she places it on the table and passes me a small box, something wrapped in paper along with some chips and a drink.
Pulling the paper off I find a burger inside. I am so hungry I more inhale the burger than eat it, never ever been this hungry before. Looking up I see her smirking. Lowering my gaze I open the box she gave me finding another bigger burger inside.
‘Where are the children?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘In here, there aren’t any children.’
‘These people can’t afford children Adam, they won’t be clean enough, they will be contaminated. The contaminated aren’t allowed to breed they are sterilized, you must know that!’
‘Oh,’ I go back to eating, thinking about what she has just said, yes, I did know that, I assumed some would be clean. ‘You are clean aren’t you?’ I meet her gaze.
‘I don’t want to make babies with you, is that okay,’ I watch for her reaction and am understandably relieved when she smiles.
‘That’s okay, I don’t want a baby with you, or any one right now,’ we eat in comfortable silence, even though I don’t look at her I can feel her eyes on me.
‘Adam, out here it isn’t just about babies, sex is the dominate motive in taking you,’ she looks at me a sadness in her eyes.
‘I…the thing is that is always my fate, out here or in the home,’ shrugging I go back to my food what else is there to them I am just a commodity not a person.
‘I just wanted you to be aware of the dangers that’s all,’ her eyes skim over me and then settle on my face. ‘You are too delicate for here,’ her voice quiet and sad.
‘I know,’ in my head I want to smile but my face won’t cooperate.
‘Hungry, were you?’ She raises an eyebrow as I grin through a mouthful of burger. She studies me as she chews slowly.
‘Yeah, you could say that,’ I manage between gulping down one mouthful and going in for another.
‘I didn’t know what you would like so I got you the same as me.’
‘I don’t know what I like here either, but this is nice.’
‘Are you telling me you have never been in a burger bar?’ She stares at me for longer than I feel is polite. She must know all this stuff, aren’t they taught how to take care of us.
‘Um, we aren’t allowed out, so yeah, I have not been in a burger bar,’ I reply taking another bite out of my burger, ‘I have seen pictures and we have burger nights sometimes. It’s not like this though.’
‘You look cute when you smile, you have dimples, how old are you, fourteen?’ Meeting her gaze I stop chewing and swallow to answer.
‘Um, no, I am seventeen,’ I reply. Noticing a bit of sauce I lick it off my finger while watching her delicately eat her burger.
‘How old are you?’ I ask partly curious and partly trying to size her up.
‘Nineteen, you’re not very big for seventeen,’ she cocks her head to one side and studies me. She picks up another fry and eats it ‘it’s cos you’re pretty and delicate looking,’ she finishes.
‘I used to get teased about that all the time by the other boys. They used to get me to play the girl if we put on plays it was awful,’ I explain as she grins at me. My features although perfect are just too delicate to be described as handsome; I have got used to people commenting on how pretty I am.
‘Well it will make it easier to hide you, at least,’ she chews on her burger and I finish eating mine.
‘Why are you helping me again? I don’t think that you mentioned it in the cave.’
‘No, I didn’t,’ she replies her gaze not meeting mine. Should I be worried, she has had opportunity to hand me back to Gen-Corp and hasn’t so far. Am I being naïve trusting her?
‘Are you going to dress me up as a girl?’ I raise an eyebrow and she chuckles.
‘Maybe, do you have a problem with that?’ She gazes at me quizzically and I suspect she is laughing at me again. I start to relax; it’s nice talking to her. She is an odd looking girl. Her most striking features are her green eyes. They are pure green, not watered down with brown or blue and she has freckles over her nose. I wouldn’t call her beautiful but she is pretty I suppose. The burgers have taken the edge off my hunger and it is warm in here; being cold all the time is tiring.
‘No,’ but actually I think I would object to a silly dress even if it was going to save my life. Maybe keep hold of my masculinity a little bit. Pushing away the drink that has gone watery I decide a skirt combo might be all right. Why am I thinking this?
‘We should use the facilities while we are here, you know clean up a bit.’
‘Why?’ It just slips out; she stops what she is doing and looks at me.
‘It’s quite a way to the house and we have at least one night in the tent.’ She says one eyebrow raised. Oh, do I smell? When she isn’t looking I smell myself. I don’t smell that much so relax, well I don’t think I do. I mean I don’t smell like I do after playing hockey, maybe girls have a more acute sense of smell than boys. I decide to go along with what she says anyway. Pushing back the chair I climb to my feet, following her into the restroom.
She passes me the waterproof brown coat. It is lovely and warm, it’s padded and has a fleece lining that is soft and snug, the hood is fur lined and the whole thing reaches to my mid-thigh enveloping me in cocoon like warmth. Zipping it up I pull the hood up concealing my face. I fold up my blanket as I don’t need it now I have the coat. She takes my hand and leads me out of the restaurant, which is now getting busy. I notice some security from Gen-Corp and immediately move closer to her, she squeezes my hand pulling me along.
As we walk towards the exit two Gen Corp security guards walk in. I freeze, a cold sweat engulfing my body as they walk towards us. Their helmets are off and they are talking amongst themselves and smiling. For a moment I think that they are going to arrest me but instead, they walk straight past and head towards the counter.
‘Come on, Adam lets go.’ The girl hisses trying to spur me back into action. I begin to walk again when someone taps me on the shoulder from behind.
‘Excuse me, ma’am.’
I freeze again. Slowly I turn to meet the security guards gaze.
‘I feel like we’ve met before, do I know you from somewhere?’ the security guard asks.
‘Be cool, I will handle this,’ the girl hisses in my ear as I open my mouth to speak. I immediately closed it again and stare at the security guard gormlessly.
‘You must be mistaken officer, my friend here is a newly purchased Adam,’ the girl says her tone stern and business like as she steps between me and the security guard.
‘I am escorting him to his new Mother,’ she continues her hand moving slowly to the pistol holstered at her waist.
Their eyes immediately focus on me. I know just seeing me is shocking to them and I decide to use this to my advantage. They both appear to relax as they look me over.
‘Look at him, I ain’t ever seen a boy before,’ the shorter one says stepping nearer me and looking at me closely. I stay absolutely still as a sudden movement and they might shoot me.
‘He looks more like a flat chested girl than a boy,’ the other remarks.
‘Do you think we should check?’ Shorty asks and I swallow not liking that idea.
‘Dunno, which part is different,’ the other one undoes my coat and shrugs.
‘You will not touch him unless A. you have a permit or B. you want me to take this up with your superiors. Who did you say your CO was again?’ the girl asks her tone stern.
Both the guards backup slightly, straightening as their expressions become more serious.
‘Show us your papers and his movement orders,’ the taller one commands. Once they find out we have no documentation this will be over very quickly. I stand nervously my head bowed hands behind my back as I have been taught, a display of submission.
‘Here,’ I almost bring my head up in shock and it takes all my training not to.
The shorter guard takes the papers from the girl’s hand and spends some time looking them over.
‘These seem to be in order,’ Shorty says as she hands them back. ‘I need to catalogue his number.’
‘Of course,’ the girl takes my arm with the tattoo on it and Shorty runs her scanner over it.
‘These are dangerous times you should have more protection with you.’ The other says still gazing at me with a hungry look that I really don’t like, it makes me nervous.
‘That encourages too much attention; besides this one is so pretty he looks like a girl,’ as she takes my chin and shows them my face. It takes an enormous amount of will power not to react.
‘Indeed, he does,’ the security snigger as the girl takes my hand and pulls me away.